While many offices, schools, and live event spaces have begun to welcome people back in person, the ongoing threat of COVID-19 and its more transmissible delta variant has forced integrators to continue their reliance on enterprise streaming solutions. Recently, SCN talked with experts from three manufacturers helping to satisfy the growing demand for high-quality, low-latency video about the latest in streaming solutions, as well as the lasting impact that COVID-19 has had on the technological and demographic landscape of enterprise streaming.
While the trend toward enterprise video streaming to reach remote audiences may have already begun prior to the pandemic, continued social distancing measures have sent this transition into overdrive.
“Requirements for enterprise streaming had shifted to high-quality video with low latency over standard IP networks,” said Joe da Silva, director of product marketing at Extron. “Pro AV over IP met these expectations and more—also providing the extended range, scalability, and flexibility of enterprise IP networks.”
He continued, “These requirements will not only continue, but they will accelerate and expand. The primary trend in enterprise streaming is ‘more’—more video, of higher quality, delivered in real time, ubiquitously across the enterprise.”
With the increased number and variety of organizations now using streaming has come an influx of new tools to accommodate their unique needs. “Alongside an increasing range of streaming options including NDI [Network Device Interface, a free protocol for video over IP developed by NewTek], multipoint streaming, SDVoE, video over Ethernet, and beyond, we are also seeing technology developers deliver tools designed specifically to help organizations strike the right balance between video quality, reach, and network connectivity,” AJA director of product marketing Bryce Button explained.
Claire Southey, director of customer engineering at Amazon Web Services (AWS), noted how this rapid growth in adoption is reflected in the broader streaming market. “The global video streaming market grew from $7 billion in 2017 to more than $50 billion in 2020.” She continued, “Organizations now recognize the power of streaming, interactive video, and multimedia to unite communities, impart information, entertain, socialize, teach, and create.”
The Best in Enterprise Streaming
“New technologies in Pro AV over IP such as the Extron NAV Series enable lossless 4K60 video with 4:4:4 chroma sampling and ultra-low latency,” said da Silva. “The NAV System accomplishes this with purpose-built technology such as the PURE3 codec to deliver lossless video with ultra-low latency at efficient bit rates. This high-quality 4K video can easily and efficiently be distributed across the enterprise over standard IP networks with almost limitless scale and range. Using standard multicast IP networking, a single video stream can be shared with many viewers across the enterprise network in the most efficient manner possible.”
Button emphasized the ongoing need for products that move audio and video signals seamlessly and securely across the internet. “Signals often originate from 12G- and 3G-SDI equipment and must then move through various IP protocols, like NDI, before reaching audiences on a phone, tablet, smart TV or other device type, using a broad range of compression codecs that balance image quality with bandwidth availability.” He continued, “As such, we’ve seen increasing demand among clients for conversion tools that can help them bridge between the different types of signals, codecs, and IP protocols, and with a greater need for signal density than in past years.”
Over the past year, educational institutions such as FHNW Academy of Art and Design at the FHNW University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland have relied on AJA’s robust suite of solutions—from the standalone HELO appliance for recorded backup and HD streaming to the BRIDGE LIVE for multichannel live video streaming—to ensure secure, crystal-clear remote instruction.
Southey spotlighted Amazon Interactive Video Service (Amazon IVS) as a solution to client requests for “ease of integration” into websites and apps, as well as a more engaging relationship with viewers. “The managed live streaming solution is quick and easy to set up, and ideal for creating interactive video experiences,” she explained. “Customers send live streams to Amazon IVS using streaming software, and the service does everything needed to make low-latency live video available to any viewer around the world, letting customers focus on building interactive experiences alongside the live video.”
IVS turned out to be the ideal streaming solution for global education technology company Blackboard Inc. “The ease of integration was a key reason why Blackboard chose to partner with IVS. Blackboard, whose instruction software is used by more than 17,000 schools and 75 percent of U.S. colleges and universities, was able to integrate IVS into its teaching and learning workflows within less than a day to bring live multimedia teaching approaches to educational settings,” Southey said.
A Lasting Impact
The degree to which organizations rely on video streaming is not likely to change soon, Button said. “As in-person education, religious worship, and live events have started to resume and the workforce has begun returning to office buildings, albeit with safety precautions in place, the advantages of video streaming in enterprise environments have become readily apparent,” he observed. “Throughout the pandemic, enterprises have seen how streaming can improve internal communications and training, broaden audience reach, enhance audience engagement, and minimize travel expenses. To this end, streaming is proving a trend with staying power.”
This sentiment was echoed by Southey, who said, “We expect the extraordinary uptick in video traffic will slow as people begin to reunite face-to-face, but it won’t return to pre-2020 baseline levels.”
Southey highlighted the fact that COVID-19 has allowed video streaming to reach entirely new audiences. “The global pandemic has brought multimedia to previously unconnected communities, creating thriving new online collectives and societies that are here to stay,” she said. “Streaming has also crossed the generational divide into aged care communities and the elderly, and extended outreach to more isolated and remote members of society. These new demographics of streamers and viewers have given content distributors a deeper understanding and respect for the diverse needs and expectations of their audiences, driving requests for multilanguage captions, audience chat, ecommerce, and mobile or on-demand viewing.”
The Future Is Accessible
Going forward, da Silva said, streaming is poised to reach all aspects of the enterprise. “Video and audio will need to be accessible and distributed not only via the high-bandwidth, low-latency corporate networks but also to lower-bandwidth remote and home networks, concurrently or time-shifted.” He continued, “Video streaming systems must adapt the video to the access, bandwidth, and latency capabilities of remote or mobile networks.”
The current proliferation of video streaming and processing tools is also expected to continue, allowing organizations of all sizes to select the appropriate solution for their needs. “We expect to see an explosion of video metadata workflows and technology in the next year that better help professionals manage how these files are stored, organized, and monitored—both online with video-on-demand (VOD) and offline,” Button said.
While the trajectory of the coronavirus delta variant is still uncertain, it is clear that whatever COVID-19 has in store for the coming months, video streaming product manufacturers are ready and willing to supply integrators with necessary tools to keep enterprise clients and their audiences connected.